Thursday, December 1, 2011

You are Loved

 Pull up a chair, and grab a blanket, this is going to be a long one.

I was going to wait till later this evening to write this blog, but I think the time is right now.  For what it's worth I wasn't going to talk about this at all in a public way, because contrary to perception I don't share everything that happens in my life, or the life of my kids.  But then I started thinking, what if by sharing this very difficult subject, I could help another person.  Like the mom I saw today who did everything she could to keep her child from seeing her cry when he told her repeatedly that if she loved him, she wouldn't make him stay at the hospital.  In that moment, all I could offer her was a simple affirming comment, "It is hard." and a look that indicated I understood her pain.

Do you know what it feels like to give up total control of your child? To trust that the people you are leaving him or her with will love them at least a fraction of the way you do?  To trust that your child won't be irreparably damaged by a choice that you don't want to make?  To walk away from your child, and have them screaming and crying for you not to leave, but you have to keep on walking to the other side of a locked door?  To see your child suffering behind a wall of mental illness and past hurts and a destroyed sense of self worth and not be able to do anything to fix it?  My guess would be a majority of you have absolutely no idea what that feels like.  And I can promise you, having to leave your child in daycare or at the church nursery or with the babysitter is not the same as leaving your child in a mental health hospital, or even the same as your child being removed from your custody by Children and Youth.  In this situation I don't have the ability to change my behavior in order for the situation to be corrected, I don't have the option of not going to a program or work in order to help my child through this.  Saving my daughters life is my only option.

There are those who know the detailed history.  For those who don't, what's important to understand is that my daughter is a product of the Foster Care System.  And she was hurt, badly - both by those who were related to her, and the county that was charged with protecting her.  As her Foster Parents we fought hard to do everything in our power to help her.  It was because of my relentlessness that traumatic visits stopped at 2 1/2 years.  And it was because of my diligence that she got any treatment at all while she was a ward of the state.  I don't say this because I want kudos or praise.  I say this because it's important to understand that even though she was in our custody for 3 years, we didn't have rights to protect her.  All we could do was watch her crumble before our eyes and beg for help for her while politics took precedence.  Rights were finally terminated and we adopted her in September of 09.  We then had the right to seek out any and all appropriate treatments for her.  And we did.  The hurdles were and are still there though.  A lot happens in the first 3 years of life that builds into who you are.  We can't get those years back, they were stolen from her.  When it comes to mental health, and mental health treatment with children, the field is riddled with lack of funding, lack of education and controversy.  To find someone who knows what they are doing, and has experience with kids like my youngest, is harder then finding a needle in a haystack.  We are two years into adoption and we have yet to find someone who knows, without a doubt, how to help this child.  And the list of consulted experts is long and comprehensive.

Currently, my almost 6 year old daughter is in a mental health hospital.  It's not like you see in the movies.  Yes, it's loud at times, and there are kids with issues that are more explosive then my daughter's, but for the most part, it's a comfortable place.  And the staff clearly care about the children.  This isn't our first time at the rodeo either.  It would take two hands to count the number of inpatient stays this poor kid has had in the last year and a half.  I don't know how long she will be there this time.  Her shortest stay was 2 weeks, and her longest was 4 weeks.  But it doesn't matter how many times she has gone in, or how long each stay has been, because each time has been painful.  Each time has been emotionally draining for all of us.  And each time we have been left wondering if anyone or anything can help her.

I can't adequately describe to you how, as a mom, or dad, it feels to make the choices we have had to make.  It's heartbreaking.  But more times then most of us would like, you have to bypass your heart and make decisions with your head.  Sometimes making the right decision for your child means making hard decisions, decisions that hurt.  Decisions that you never thought you'd have to make.  But diagnoses of mental health do that.  We are supposed to not discuss them, keep them quiet, keep them within the family.  We aren't supposed to talk about how many medications our child is on, or how their issues impact us.  Mental health issues suck.  If not adequately treated they destroy the person, and take out the family with them.  But I need those of you in the thick of it to know this: I understand.  I get it.  I'm not afraid to discuss it.  And I'm hurting too.

We are given these kids, through birth or adoption, and we are told that we are responsible for their life.  That it's our job to give them the skills they need to survive in the real world.  For parents with kids who follow societies game plan, that works.  For those who stray to one extreme or the other, the reality is that we have to give them the skills to get through the next five minutes before we can even begin to fathom getting them into adulthood.

Again, I'm not looking for extra support or encouragement.  I've been blessed with a support system that has shown me amazing grace and love when I have needed it the most.  And I've been surprised by acts of love by people I never expected.  I am also very aware that the ONLY thing I can trust is that God knew my daughter before she was a blip on the radar.  It is through Christ alone that I am able to continue on day to day with the hope that my fears are opposite of His plan for her life.  My point in sharing is that someone out there is finding themselves fighting to save the life of someone they love, someone who is trapped behind mental illness and a past they can't seem to escape.  And I need that person to know that they aren't alone.  






Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dematerializing Christmas


It absolutely boggles my mind at the number of sale catalogs I have already received.  Each one of them insists that they have the best deal on everything I need.  This year more then others it feels like companies are making a grander attempt at trying to make me believe that if I don't get what they are selling, I am missing out.  Here is the kicker though - I, an admitted shopaholic, am disgusted.  The mass consumerism is too much.  There are over 400,000 children living in foster care in the US.  There are close to 700,000 homeless people in the US.  There are countries with no drinking water, and no access to medical care or food.  There are children being sold and bought as playthings for adults.  And companies wants to try to tell me I need a Santa doll that dances the hula?  Seriously?

My family isn't hard off.  My husbands job meets the needs of our family.  We have a roof over our head, electricity, food, water and clothes.  We don't want for much.  But each year we look through the ads and convince ourselves that we need more.  Not this year.  This year we have looked at each other and struggled to convince ourselves that need anything else.  At this point we've decided that we are going to get a new washer and dryer, not because we want them, but because our current ones are a step away from being nonfunctional and you can usually get a good deal on Black Friday.  But we recognize even that, is a luxury.

We've made some bold decisions this year, perhaps not bold to others, but bold for us because it goes against what we, and those around us, are used to.  We haven't made the decision because we are cheap, or because we can't afford to.  We've done it because we feel that the right thing to do is to not feed into the monster of excess, the one that keeps our kids, and us, feeling entitled .  We've decided to pare down big time on the gifts for the kids.  We are going to only be giving one gift to each of our extended family members with whom we regularly exchange gifts.  We will be increasing our donation to Samaritan's Purse, collecting non perishable items to donate to local food pantries, and visiting with individuals in nursing homes.  It's a change, we hope, in the right direction.

I want to make it clear that this blog isn't an attempt to make anyone feel guilty, or like they have to make the same choices.  I am no better then any person reading this.  We, as a family, are just trying to make some different choices, and, hopefully learn a bit more about ourselves in the process.      

   




 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tastier then a Testamint


When I sit back and really think about the legacy I want to leave in this world, I automatically think of two things.  1) I want my kids to know I always tried to do my best and 2) I want everyone to know that nothing good I have ever done came from me.  The result of those thoughts tonight, prompted this blog entry.

I've gotten criticism/concern in the past about my participation in the Susan G Komen 3-Day.  Some of it is legitimate and relates directly to what I am going to share with you.  Some of it is just plain hurtful, like when it was said that my place was at home with my kids and not out participating in these types of events.  And some was toward the organization itself.  I am not going to take the time in this blog to discuss the second or third types of concern or criticism.  But I am going to share about the first, because what happened this year was nothing short of a miracle - and I need you to know that.


I've participated in four 3-Day events.  Two being in Philly, and two being in Tampa Bay.  In 2010 I walked in Philly and injured myself.  The route there is tough, with a lot of hills.  I trained hard that year and was completely disappointed when I had to pull myself off the route or risk being red carded and unable to walk into closing (for those who aren't aware, a red card=removal from the event for reasons of health).  I finished the 3 days with bursitis on my right hip and a sprained IT band.  I don't blame the event for this injury, I blame myself.  I didn't stop when I should have - pride got in the way.  I committed to having a new attitude in 2011, and tried to just accept my physical limitations.  I signed up to do Tampa Bay with the understanding that I wouldn't be able to train as I had in the past, and that I would have to be ok with not walking 60 miles.  It was a goal I had to give up.  

Shortly before this years walk I got a phone call that my Aunt, a 10 year survivor, was in the hospital with congestive heart failure and her prognosis wasn't good.  It scared me.  I didn't want to think about my life without her.  She told me that she shared with the Dr that she had to get better, because she HAD to get to the 3-Day and cheer on the walkers, and her niece.  And she did.  Three weeks before the walk I fell and injured my tailbone and spine.  An xray showed that I had osteoarthritis in both of my hips and my spine, as well as disk deterioration - the disease had progressed.  Two weeks before the walk I had a suspicious spot removed from my back, and one day before the walk I learned that this spot was precancerous.  When I arrived in Tampa Bay I had given up any hope that this year would be anything amazing - I admitted defeat. 

And then something happened. 

I walked 60 miles.

I am not sure about a lot of things, but I am 100% positive that God set before me everything I would need to complete this task.  The Medical Crew that knew exactly the treatment I needed at just the right time, the Safety Crew that said just the right thing when I needed to hear it, the cheerleaders who stayed to cheer us on even when we were last, the Pit, Sweep and Camp crews who encouraged and supported me, My family who poured out love on me, strangers who hugged me, survivors who inspired me, the church that had its service along the route, my team that never left me, and my daughter who motivated me to just keep going.  I didn't complete this walk in my own strength, I am far too damaged and broken.  I finished because God carried me the entire way and he used those around me to ensure that I finished the task set before me.      

I shouldn't have made it more then 5 miles.  I should have ended up with debilitating pain.  I should have failed in my mission.  But I didn't.

And that... is a miracle.

Thank you to those who loved me, encouraged me, and supported me - and continue to.  It means so much more to me then you will ever know.  To the various crews and to those who walked with me, your passion and willingness to fight so hard for something is inspiring - never give up.    


Friday, September 9, 2011

To My Daughter

Tomorrow is an important day for our family.  It's the day a judge signed a paper that gave your daddy and me the legal right to be your parents.  It's the day we said goodbye to other people telling us what was good for you, the day we were finally able to start helping you heal.

You are such a neat kid.  You have spunk. You are strong willed.  You have an awesome sense of humor.  Your smile lights up a room.  You are a daredevil, you are willing to try almost anything. You get these looks on your face, and I know exactly what that brain of yours is up to.  I know every bit of you. You are my child.

It's been a long two years.  The road has been rocky.  There have been moments when I question everything, and moments that I couldn't imagine anyone else loving you as I do.  You have fought hard to not be loved.  You were taught from a very early age that you couldn't trust or depend on anyone.  You learned that people hurt.  You learned that love hurts.  Those wounds scab over and we have to take a scrub brush and remove everything right down to the bone, because if we didn't you would never be able to survive in the real world.  It's so hard for people to understand, even those who love you.  They don't quite get the depth of the pain you carry, and how the littlest thing can make you feel like your heart is being ripped out.  I need you to understand this though - we will never leave you.  We are forever.  You are ours, and we are yours.

The day we adopted you is the day our family became complete.  And one day, one day, you will be able to feel just how much you are loved.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Truths

I started this post at the beginning of the week.  I was going to relay a story to you about how my son was taught a lesson about poverty.  And how after he processed what I told him he apologized for being a jerk.  But then life happened and between the three kids there were all sorts of lessons that were just as meaningful.  I started thinking about all of the interactions.  Sometimes I wasn't the worlds best mom, and sometimes, they weren't the worlds best kids.  But none of us pretended to be anything other then who we were at that particular moment.  Our feelings, our reactions, our emotions - were real.  And I think, maybe, out of every little lesson, this might be the biggest lesson I want my kids to learn.  Authenticity.

We all wear masks.  We pretend to be people we aren't. We change our dress, our demeanor, our vocabulary, our feelings, our emotions, and sometimes even our beliefs depending on who we are around.  It's ok to admit that you do.  I think it's part of being human and the need to fit in, to not be uncomfortable, to not be the weak link, to not admit to being different.  I watch my kids struggle with it every day.  I can preach about being yourself all I want to them, but what they learn, from a very early age, is that being yourself isn't what other people want.  They change what they like to play with based on whose attention they want.  And it's really hard when I see one of my kids trying so hard to please and change to meet the expectations of someone else, only to be ignored or looked down on. .  It's heartbreaking, those moments when you realize that neither the person you are, or who others want you to be, are good enough for some people.  When all you want to do is feel like you belong, but everywhere you look it feels like you don't.

I am going to tell you some truths about me.  I'm going to lay it out there clear as day because I've realized that people read things about me, hear things about me, and even talk to me, but that doesn't mean they know me.  That doesn't mean everyone needs to know me.  Some of my closest friends don't know my deepest darkest secrets, and that's ok.  But if I want to be a true teacher to my children, then I need to be willing to throw off my own masks and be authentic.  And maybe by doing so, some of you that feel like you are alone, like no one understands where you are at or how tough it is, or like no one is like you, will realize that there may be someone else who gets it.  And if you feel brave enough, share in the comments some truths about you.  Throw off the masks.  Be yourself.  And realize that the person you are, the one you hide, is amazing and someone I'd like to get to know.

Some truths about me:

  • I can't stand the sound of people eating.  I hate it.  It drives me up the wall. There are times I have contemplated hitting people.
  • I struggle with negative thought patterns, for example, even if everyone tells me I am doing a great job, I am sure they are lying to me.
  • I am afraid of failure.  Like really afraid.  Sometimes I will do something right up to the final step and then not finish because I don't want to fail.
  • Every single time I discipline my kids I have to take about 5 minutes in my head to decide if I made good choices or not.
  • If I am going on a trip, I have to start packing my suitcase weeks in advance, and then I check it several times.  And if I have tickets or important papers, I have a habit of checking to make sure they didn't grow legs and walk away.  As in, I look in my wallet at least 5 times on the way to the airport.
  • I can't parallel park.  At all.  
  • I don't like dark chocolate, or coconut.
  • I have a huge base of knowledge, I know a lot about a lot.  I love learning.  But sometimes I don't admit to knowing something because I am afraid I will sound like a know it all.
  • Every time I speak in public I sweat, and my insides shake.
  • I sometimes daydream about not having kids, and I sometimes get jealous of my friends who don't have kids yet, or only have one.  And if I ever say that publicly I automatically feel compelled to add how much I love my children.
  • I love Jesus.  And because I love Jesus, I love others where they are at.  I don't like it when people use Jesus as an excuse for not being friends with people.
  • I am constantly writing books in my head.  I just never write them down.
  • I live in pain daily.  I struggle with severe fatigue daily.  But I will never admit to someone how bad any particular day.
  • I can't stand it when other people try to limit me based on what they think I can handle.
  • When I make people laugh, I'm not always sure what it is that made them laugh.
  • I will fight to my death to stop abuse wherever I see it.  
  • Sometimes I go to the SPCA just to look.  If it were up to me, I'd have a house full of animals.
  • My dream has always been to open a group home for mentally challenged individuals, or a safe haven for children and if I had enough money I'd buy the property off of Ferry and do just that.
  • My greatest desire is to be loved, but my definition of love doesn't always coincide with the girly definitions of love.
Now, what are some truths about you?





Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Peri Empty Nester Wore Striped Pants

No one warned me.  No one told me that the day all of my kids found themselves at school all day, that I would lose my identity.  And to be honest, I'm not sure if someone did give me a heads up, that I would have believed them.  It's one of those things that you just have to experience, sorta like when people tell you about post baby sleep deprivation and you think you understand because you used to participate in all night benders.

For the last 10 years I have been mom.  Just mom.  Yes, Amanda was in there, and so were my roles as a mother, wife and friend, but mom is what defined me.  My schedule focused on the needs of the children and everything I did had to in some way accommodate them.  It became difficult to enjoy certain things because of the special needs of two of my children.  And, the invitations to participate in certain things stopped because of the special needs of two of my children. Every day of every week for the last 10 years was about doing the best I could to meet the needs of my children.  I don't say that to get sympathy, or to assert that my focus isn't still on my children and their needs.  And I certainly won't suggest that I spent every day of the last 10 years in the company of my children.  But I will reinforce that everything I did revolved around my ability to make sure that my kids were taken care of and that  any care not by me was safe and appropriate.

And before you think I've given up on making sure my kids are cared for, that's not what I mean at all. They still need me, probably more than ever.  And I still have to make sure they are safe.  The thing is that for seven and a half hours, five days a week, my kids are somewhere else.  So for seven and a half hours, five days a week, I am left to deal with just me.  And to tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure who I am.  I mean, I know what I like and don't like, and I know where my moral grounding is.  But, somewhere in the last 10 years, I lost Amanda.  You see, when your primary focus, (as it should be), becomes your kids, you tend to forget that there once was a you that didn't include tagalongs.

So, what do you do when you realize that you lost yourself?  I haven't quite figured it out yet. I'm starting off slowly. But I know that what I am feeling is normal, that this part of the journey, is all a part of growing.  And I know that it is but a precursor to the final flight of the kids when they will one day leave our home for good.  No one warned me.  But I probably wouldn't have listened if they had.  

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I don't want to leave any of you ill prepared.  So, I complied a list of things you can do in your first days of attempting to find yourself once all of your kids are in school full time.  Be gentle with yourself and remember it's a process.

  • Go to a consignment store and try on the ugliest, most unflattering things you can find.  Compare it to what's in your closet.  If the things you tried on look better on you then the stuff in your closet, go shopping.  You don't have to dress for spills and spit up anymore.
  • Make a list of all of the things you used to eat hidden from the kids.  You know what I am talking about.  The candy bar you ate in the bathroom.  The ice cream you hid behind your bent knees while the kids watched tv.  Go to the store, buy everything on your list, sit in the playroom and eat.  Make a production of it.
  • Go to the bathroom and close the door.  Read a magazine.  Sit there for at least 5 minutes.  Now take that same magazine to the couch and sit and read for 20 minutes.
  • Get sick.  Go lay in your bed and don't move.  Heal.
  • Go to the mall.  Sit on a bench.  Watch all of the moms with their kids.  Notice how the child is not walking.  Notice how the mom is pulling the child.  Now get up and go visit every store alone.
  • Watch a sad movie in the middle of the day.  Bawl your eyes out.  
  • Take a shower.  Shave your legs.  Get dressed.  Put on makeup.  Do your hair.  And take as long as you want.
  • Chances are you forgot what lunch is.  Make a lunch date with another mom who forgot who she is. 
And perhaps the most important thing you can do in your first days of attempting to find yourself:
  • Ask your husband to come home at noon.  It's likely he remembers you, and he's the best source in helping you to remember too. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Forgive

Forgiveness.


Let the weight of that word sit with you for a minute.


Forgiveness.


What kind of feelings does the word evoke?


Forgiveness.


I've been meditating on this word a lot lately.  It's at the center of so many things in my life.  For some people it rolls off the tongue easily,  for others its a bitter lump that hangs out in their throat and makes it hard to swallow.  It's easy to forgive simple things, like your kids when they do something.  Not so much when it's your children that have been hurt.  But regardless of how hard, or how bitter, or how angry I feel.  I know it's important.  And I know that it is the best gift I can give myself.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Buttons



Tonight I am going to blog about the "Mom" button.  If you have children, you have this button.  It's the one that when pressed brings out the any of the following feelings (or combination of feelings): grief, guilt, heartbreak, sadness, regret, anger, rage, burnout, passion, ire, weariness, exasperation, gall, anguish, rejection, etc, etc, etc.  Basically it causes you, as a mom, to question everything you have ever done as a parent and a person.

This button can be pushed by doctors, spouses, friends, acquaintances, relatives, teachers, your kids, the woman in the parking lot who gave you the stink-eye, the other mom on the field trip, a facebook "friend" - pretty much by any person you come into contact with.  And the effects can blindside us, and take us to a really dark place if we let it.

Here is the silver lining.  The fact that you have a "Mom" button, is usually what makes you a good mom.  It means you care enough to wonder if there is any truth to the issue at hand.  But it doesn't make it hurt any less.  It can take even the most secure parent and cause them to feel paranoid and to analyze the smallest details.

I want to tackle the spiritual side (in my case the Christian angle) of the "Mom" button.  Most of us take the skills and resources we have, and do the best we can.  Sure mistakes are made, but most of the time we are making the right choices for our kids.  So why is it that out of the blue someone says something and it makes us wonder if everything we are doing is wrong? It's because satan doesn't want you to think you are doing a good job.  The deciever wants to make you believe that you aren't good enough, or worthy enough to have kids.  The king of lies wants you to be angry and resentful.  He wants you to fall flat on your face and fail, and to do it all without ever crying out to God. 

It hit me like a ton of bricks tonight when dealing with a professional, who because she doesn't know how to help in a specific situation, offered a suggestion that hit my "Mom" button.  And even though logically I knew she was off base, and that what she was saying wasn't truth - I allowed erroneous anger and guilt seep in.  Even after I dealt with her and let her know she was not correct, I walked away holding onto it and needing reassurance that I wasn't blind to some grand reality.  Satan got me right where he wanted me, he pushed my biggest and most precious button.  But he didn't win.  As soon as I acknowledged that the emotions I was feeling weren't God's desire for me the negativity vanished.  The weight of failure lifted.

I don't know that tomorrow someone else won't make me feel that way again.  I can almost guarantee you that many things will occur over the course of my lifetime that will take me right back to that place of cynicism.  But I can try to be better at going back to my true source of reassurance and not allow the negativity.

And as a note to everyone - think long and hard before you assume you know everything.  Really examine the reasons behind the looks and "advice" you give parents.  And maybe instead of judging, or speaking a false truth, just admit you have no answers and tell the person you really wish you did.  Or, at the very least take a minute to realize that you have no idea what someone else is carrying with them, and that the way you treat the situation could be the straw that breaks the camels back.   And if nothing else, open your arms and give a hug.  It might be the only expression of love that person gets all day.

And if I have ever pushed your "Mom" button.  I'm sorry.  It wasn't fair to you.  I'm going to try my best to follow my own advice.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Puzzle



Have you ever taken a minute to just look at your Facebook newsfeed?  I mean REALLY look at it?  Did you ever in your life realize that there were so many perfect people, with perfect kids, and perfect husbands with perfect lives?  I don't mean that to come across as negative, even though it easily could be seen as such.  My point is that so many of us work so hard at an illusion.  Why?  Why are so many afraid to admit that sometimes life sucks? That sometimes things don't go as we planned?  That we aren't... perfect?

The need to fake perfection didn't start with Facebook. Remember Stepford Wives?  That was a satirical look at a harsh reality.  Every day we are inundated with images and stories that make sure we know that whatever life we are living isn't anywhere near what we could possible attain.  I was flipping through a Better Homes magazine the other day and it hit me that I wasn't enjoying it.  I was actually finding myself more annoyed with my own house and what it is vs. what it could be.  But society attempts to convince me that if I just move my couch to the window and paint my walls that I too can have the life the people in the picture do.  And it doesn't stop there.  As moms we are the worst offenders.  My kids aren't in all sorts of afterschool programs and sports.  The majority of thier socialization occurs in school and at church.  And that's ok.  But when I see how much other families do, the guilt starts to creep in. "Am I doing enough?". "Will they be well rounded?". "Am I destroying their chance of getting into college?".  And by the way... I don't like spending every minute with my kids... I like getting a break and taking time for myself! (GASP...Did you see what she wrote??).

With me, what you see is what you get.  My kids make mistakes, and they misbehave.  My husband is sometimes a jerk (and admittedly so am I).  My kitchen walls need to be painted big time.  I've convinced myself that the ring in the toilet bowl is decorative.  There is dust on my tv.  I'm pretty sure one of my animals is due for some sort of shot.  I can't tell you what everything in my fridge is.  I am not a good cook, or a baker.  I hate it when things are out of place, unless I put them there.  Me, my husband, my kids, my house... we are far from perfect.  Yet somehow, we manage.  And I am ok with that.    






 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Icicle


Have you ever really thought about how incredible an icicle is?  It starts as one drop of water and over time, if given the proper environment,  has the potential to grow and become something so amazing.  We usually aren't lucky enough to catch the moment that the icicle begins to form, but once it's here, it's hard to miss.

My husband and I have two children who are biologically ours.  Both were difficult pregnancies and after all was said and done my body just wasn't the right place to create life anymore.  This was a hard reality for me, because I believed in my heart that I was supposed to have another child.  I dealt with the grief over time, and things became clear again when my husband and I decided that we should be foster parents.  We had no plans to adopt.  We wanted to be a resource, to take care of children until their parents could get healthy enough to be parents.  We have had three foster children come through our home.  And we did our best to love and care for each one.  What we learned though, is that when you think you know what the plan is, that's when everything changes.

I have no idea what I was doing five years ago today.  It wasn't even a blip on my radar.  To me it was like any other ordinary (albeit typically chaotic) day.  I was completely oblivious to what was going on in another part of my county.  Yet, that single event would forever change my life.  Because today is the day my youngest child was born.

A lot of people don't understand how anyone could love a person that injures a child, that purposely injects themselves with drugs knowing that they are doing the same to the child they are carrying.  A lot of people don't understand how forgiveness could be granted to someone who, by putting themselves in danger also puts their child in danger.  But forgiveness and love came when I looked into the eyes of a 6 week old baby girl and realized that she was allowed to live.  Now some may believe that her birth mother should have done away with her like she had with the other pregnancies, and some focus on the heavy plate the little one carries, but I see something so much bigger ahead of her.  I see a little drop of water, that was allowed to form into something so beautiful.  And although there are cracks and bubbles, when the light shines the reflection is amazing.

Five years ago today I didn't see the starting of the icicle.  But five years ago today, there was a drop of water that was allowed to grow.  And for that, I am thankful.     

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Old Photo Booth Picture


I watched a really ridiculous movie tonight.  It's about these guys who end up in a hot tub that also happens to be a time machine.  I won't go into exactly what makes this movie something I won't watch again because that's not the point.  I will give the movie this much though, it got me thinking. 

If you had a chance to go back in time, would you change anything?  Or would you do exactly what you did so that everything in your life now would remain the same? 

I went through a lot growing up.  Some of it was really, really good, and some of it was really, really bad.  There are actually huge gaping holes in my memory - times that my brain has decided are better left forgotten.  Many of my memories are quite literally snapshots of times I am sure I must remember, but can't quite recollect.  That's not to say everything is a blur - because it's not.  There are definitely things I wish I could forget, and much that I am so thankful to be able to hold onto.  There are times that I think would be nice to go back and change... but I wouldn't.  Why?  Because it made me who I am today.

I have a saying I revert back to often.  God always makes good from bad.  And I can honestly say there isn't anything in my life that He hasn't used for glory.  I think about who I have crossed paths with.  People that were sure no one could understand where they were coming from.  People who were convinced that they weren't worth anything, and that hope was lost.  I think of my youngest... and the love I have for her birth parents.  I think about the trials my children will face.  I think of my friends.  And even though it sounds so contrary to what the world teaches, I find myself thankful that the hurts I endured made it possible for me to relate to them, for me to understand them, and for me to love them, and for me to understand the power of forgiveness.  I am thankful for the pain, because the pain made me real and helped me to understand that transparency is the only way I can live my life, if I am to live it fully. 

So no... If I could go back into time, and change things, I wouldn't.  I like whats been done with who I have become.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Coccyx , My Coccyx, My Coccyx, My Lovely Lady Coccyx



Just what you always wanted to see...right?  Technically I took a screen shot of my xray tonight, so this counts towards the 365 project ;)

I got a call from the Dr.  She said the nurse who told me the other night that nothing is broken was right, but that my Coccyx is displaced.  It shouldn't turn in like it does in the picture.  Unfortunately there isn't much to do but wait for everything to heal.  There is a chance that my tailbone has always been detached, that I was born like this, and the trauma just aggravated it.  That's the route I am hoping for...

I am so fed up with my body right now.  I wish my connective tissues would do what they are supposed to do.  And it upsets me that my son inherited the same rheumatic stuff.  I don't want him to have to go through all the stuff I have.  But I guess it's like any other trait we hand down to our kids... we do the best with what we have and pray that they make it through intact.

And I really shouldn't complain.  I'm lucky to have the support system that I do, and I am thankful that I can turn to Jesus.  Things could always be worse.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Creative Kids


I am not a person that likes to sit.  I don't like to be told that I can't do anything, that I have no choice but to just let life happen around me.  I don't like not being able to fulfill obligations.  I don't like needing others.  A lot of it has to do with my desire to control everything around me.  Because, you know, if I can control everything around me then nothing can go wrong... right?  Um no. 

It's easy to blame everyone else for our own mistakes.  But the truth is, most of the time, we are our own worst enemy.  I fell on Sunday.  Did I slip on juice that one of the kids spilled? Yes.  But was it that child's fault that I fell? No.  That child told me that juice was spilled.  That child then tried desperately to clean it up on their own.  Unfortunately the cleaning created a bigger mess.  So, when I got downstairs to survey the damage, and I saw that what should have been a contained spill actually spanned from one side of the house to the other, I got mad.  I got so mad that I started rushing around.  And, as I stomped into the laundry room to angrily get a mop I slipped and fell.  I fell hard.  I hit my tailbone, my back, and my head.  I wasn't mad anymore.  I screamed and cried for help, and when the realization that I couldn't get up on my own hit, pride sunk in and I got worried that I would have to be taken to the ER in my ugly, yet comfortable robe and with hair that was bathed in apple juice.

That first day I was flat on the couch.  I wasn't angry anymore, but I definitely wasn't accepting of the predicament I was in.  Then the next day I got it in my head that I was going to be bigger then the injury and get myself to the Dr and be ready to take a road trip the next day.  Well, it didn't quite go down like that.  My pretty much new to me car died on the way to my appointment.  It had to be towed and has yet to be fixed.  At the end of the day, after majorly overdoing it, I found myself in big time pain.  Today was different though.  Today I accepted that in order to heal, I am going to have to give up on being everything to everyone, and everyone to myself.  I realized that it wasn't an attack from satan, but rather a gift from God.  It was my own human emotions that got me into this mess.  But it was God that got me out.  He took the bad and made it good.  How?  Because today I saw my kids in a way I haven't seen lately. 

It's so easy to get wrapped up in life, to get so bogged down with everything that we don't have the patience or the time to see what is right in front of us.  Afterall, every day there are things that need to be done, and individual needs make getting that stuff done more complicated!  But today, today I saw three kids who are a lot like me.  Today I realized that things don't always have to be as difficult as they feel, and that sometimes it's me who is expecting too much.  Today was a gift that I wouldn't have even noticed sitting there waiting to be unwrapped if it hadn't been for the fact that I was forced to stop.

Does this mean that tomorrow will be just as insightful? No.  Tomorrow may be a really crappy day.  But what I will bring into it, and into other days will hopefully change how I deal with it.

God always makes good out of bad if we are willing to let go.   And for that I am so thankful. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

DoctorTools





It's funny how a car can look to the casual observer as if there is nothing wrong with it.  There aren't any large dents or chips in the paint.  There may be a few slight blemishes but nothing that makes anyone question it's durability over the long haul.  When the owner complains of problems others don't quite understand why.  Everything looks fine.  But the driver knows different.  First the belts seem to wear quickly, they lose elasticity and won't stay in place.  Then the mechanism that holds the hood in place fails, and has to be replaced.  Eventually the car begins to fall apart from the inside out.  The owner takes the car in, the mechanic looks it over but is perplexed.  There really isn't any clear reason the car is having such problems.  A few different mechanics are called in, and they too see the issues, but can't really find a link that makes sense.  So, they call the owner and explain that they are going to do the best they can to take care of what's going on, but they can't guarantee that there won't be any more problems, or that what they fixed won't break again.  The owner leaves the shop frustrated and with nothing more then temporary fixes, and the knowledge that something else will eventually go wrong.

It's like that. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On the Couch



Slipped on juice that had been spilled on the floor by one of the kids.  Landed flat on my back and injured my tailbone. It's going to be a couch day...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Boots


I've spent most of my life dancing. When I was little it was ballet, when I got older I did the club scene. Dance has always been a part of who I am. I hear a good beat and suddenly I am transported and I can feel the familiar desire in my muscles. My soul craves it. For me, it's the ultimate form of expression. I miss it and intend to find it again.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Brick Wall


There is so much I want to say.  But sometimes it's more important that you make sure what you share is done with the right attitude.  And right now I don't have that.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Watching Tv


So, today was a snow day for my kids and husband.  If you don't know what that means, it means none of them had to do what they normally do every day because snow fell in accumulations that made it unsafe to get where they need to go.  The reason I didn't include myself in the list of people who got a snow day is because I didn't.  I am a stay at home mom.  There are no sick days, no vacation days, and no snow days.  My job is literally 24/7.  The breaks that I do get during the day (ie the afternoons the youngest has preschool) are used for Dr appointments, school appointments, grocery shopping, cleaning, and whatever else I need to do that is easier to do without kids.  My weekends require even more work because all three kids are at home.  And if you remember from reading other blogs, 2 of those kids have special needs (1 of the 2 requires constant supervision)

So when I go away for the day alone, or go out to eat with friends, or go away without my husband or kids, it's because I need it.  If I don't take care of myself, then I can't take care of my kids, or my husband.  And my husband is just as capable of taking care of our three kids as I am, and I am thankful he has the ability to do it.  He knows how important it is that I take time to get refreshed.  Because as they say... if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

*For the record, I know working moms work just as hard, and yes you need breaks too :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuscon Shooting and the Parents Behind the Murderer

My heart is breaking for the parents of the man accused of the massacre in Arizona.  In many ways I can relate to what they must be feeling.  Can you imagine finding out that your child, the one you raised, the one you did your very best to help be a good person, made the decision to commit such a heinous act? 

I have 2 children who have mental health issues.  With both kids I have had to work hard to get them the necessary help to learn the tools necessary to function in society.  I've prayed without ceasing for all of my babies.  I've done everything I can, and will continue to do everything I can, to make sure they don't end up as statistics.  But what if... what if with all my efforts, with all my pleading, with all my interference... something still goes wrong?  What if my child who doesn't have any mental health issues decides to one day make a decision that will forever change her life and that of others? 

I've been reading some of the latest news articles where "friends" and neighbors are giving their opinion of this mans parents.  One "friend" even found it necessary to let reporters know what he thinks he remembers frequently seeing in their shopping cart.  Another "friend" commented on how the mother didn't make a point of engaging her in conversations while running errands.  A neighbor described how he felt the family was too private, they even went so far as to plant lots of bushes.   Are you serious?  Are you friggin kidding me?  I hope that if my grown child decides to act out inappropriately that my friends and neighbors don't find it necessary to smear me in the media.  Because guess what?  I buy things you may deem unnecessary.  I don't always make small talk with people I know (or barely know).  And sometimes I actually avoid people I know because I have things I need to be doing.  We also planted lots of greenery in our yard to keep neighbors and any passersby from being able to see every move we make. We like having privacy.  Those choices will not make a damn difference in what my children do with their lives.

This young man was 22 years old.  Any right his parents had to interfere with his mental health treatment flew out the window when he turned 18.  And I can promise you that the services they could have gotten him when he was younger were few and far in between.  I know this because of the battle that it takes to get my own children help.  These parents didn't have a right to speak to his Doctors, and if he wasn't threatening his life or that of others, then they couldn't force him to be hospitalized.  And even if they could force a hospitalization, once he got out it would have been up to him to refill and take his meds.  This person was sick.

Could his parents have done more?  Did they turn a blind eye?  Did they ignore blaring signs?  I can't answer that.  I don't know what they did or didn't do to help him.  And you know what?  I don't need them to tell me.  They didn't buy a gun, then buy ammunition, then go and open fire on innocent people.  And it's important to remember that they are grieving too.  They will now carry with them more guilt then most of us will ever know.  Their son killed people.  Can you IMAGINE that guilt?  Can you IMAGINE having to look people in the face knowing it was YOUR child that caused their pain?  Regular mommy guilt is nothing compared to this.  They will forever wonder "What if?".  They will play his life over and over and question every single bit of it and beat themselves up over what they should have done differently.  Their son didn't just take the lives of strangers that day, he took the lives of his parents with him too.

So before you judge these parents, you better start judging yourself.  Because if we are going to crucify them because of their son, then you better be ready for it to happen to you.  I can promise you this, even the best parents have the potential to raise a murderer.    

A Doll and a Computer


     I remember when our elementary school first got a computer.  We got to go once a week to the lab and play Oregon Trail.  It wasn't like today's games with the detailed graphics, it was dot matrix, little green and black dots that made up crude pictures.  When we got a computer in our house, we were one of the first of my friends.  And we didn't have public use internet, it hadn't been invented yet.  We had to do everything off of Dos Prompt and when you printed things you couldn't just put in a sheet, you had to load your pile of paper and make sure the holes lined up properly.  It wasn't until I was in college that the internet started gaining popularity in homes (I mainly used the computer lab at school).  At that point though you still had to use landlines and everything went really slow.  The first time I used Yahoo Messenger was in 1997 and it was the coolest thing, but the messages weren't nearly as instant as they are now, and a lot of people didn't know what it was.  But if you mentioned ICQ chat, a select group of people knew exactly what you meant (typically your WoW players).

     Things have really changed.  Most every home in the US has a computer, with internet.  It's rare to find a cell phone that can't access the internet.  Most fast food joints have free WiFi.  Computers have become a part of our lifestyle.  And regardless of what you think about computers, and the internet, and technology in general, computers and the internet are going to continue to become more and more a part of our daily life.  What I find interesting, and the main reason I decided on this blog topic today, is how well people think they know you based on your internet presence.     

     It's a well known fact that I am active on Facebook.  It's always surprising to me when people can't understand how I am able to get online so often.  First of all, I'm a stay at home mom and there are times during the week where no kids are at home.  Also, I have a laptop, and my laptop is in a central location.  So if I am sitting down watching Dora or some other obnoxious show, I jump on real quick and see what other people are up to, and sometimes update my status.  I have the internet on my phone.  So sometimes when I am stuck in a waiting room, or in line somewhere, it's quite easy to send a quick status update.

   I use Facebook (email) as a way to keep up with people in a way that I don't have the time to on a regular basis.  And a fact about me - I hate talking on the phone.  I didn't like it before the internet, I don't care for it now.  There are very few people that I will actually take the time to talk to on the phone, and I can garuntee you I am doing 3 other things at the same time.  If I were to talk face to face (or ear to ear) with all the people with whom I am connected to every day, then I really would never get anything done.

    Here is something else you should know though too.  I don't share my whole life on Facebook.  What you see posted is actually about 1/4th of what goes on minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, week to week in my life.  It's a snapshot of my life, but not my life.  I am willing to share other stuff with you, but you need to know it's not going to happen through a news feed.  And I understand that it's the same way for most everyone else too.  And that's ok.  In reality it's still more then you or I, if we aren't extremely close, would know about each other if we frequently talked or saw each other in person.

   My point is, and I promise I am getting there, is that technology has come a long way.  And things like Facebook are great tools for people like me to share a glimpse, and get a glimpse of life.  But don't assume that everything you read is, well everything.  And don't assume you know a person, or how they divide their time, or really, anything, based just on what you see them doing on Facebook.  It's important to still have relationships, to do stuff with people, to get off the couch, or the chair and live life.  Just make sure you bring your phone and send a picture to Facebook or update your status so I can get a glimpse of just what keeps you going.   

Monday, January 10, 2011

Milk in a Fridge


There is this interesting phenomena that happens whenever certain types of weather are being predicted.  It happened when we lived in Florida.  When preparing for hurricanes and the such we had to stock up on water, batteries, canned goods and other emergency staples.  Living up in the north we make sure to have eggs, milk and bread in the house when the possibility of massive snowfall is reported.  In both cases there are people at the extreme who stock up on supplies as if the result of the impending forecast will mean they are going to be stuck in their homes with no way out for a long period of time.  What is interesting is that the reality of being unable to go out and get important essentials past a few days is actually quite rare.  Yet we still react.

I went to the grocery store today, not with the purpose of stocking up on anything important.  I actually just wanted to make sure I had food for the kids in case the snow equaled no school, and I didn't want to deal with the massive amounts of people feeding into storm hysteria tomorrow.  What's funny though is that I ended up being one of those people.  I purchased 3 gallons of milk on Saturday.  That's my typical weekly amount.  But then I went to the store today and was thinking about the fact that it was cold, and snow was coming, and bought 3 more gallons of milk.  When I got home and opened the outside fridge and saw the milk from Saturday I realized I now have 6 gallons of milk in the house.  That's 1 gallon more then the number of people who live here. 

So bring on the snow.  If nothing else we will come out of it with stronger bones.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Cat Drinking from the Sink

Yeah I know... enough with the cat photos and blogs. But it's late, I'm tired and I want to put a good effort in with the 365 thing. So here ya go. My cat, drinking water the only way she will.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Scout and his Derby Car

It makes me really happy to see my kids happy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Smart Cat



This may sound silly, especially to people who don't understand the point of animals, but I love my cat.  She really is part of the family.  I truly believe that God intended for people and animals to share their lives, and it's always interesting to me to talk to people who really don't like (or understand the need for) pets.  Yes, one day my pets will pass away.  Yes, my pets use the restroom and I have to clean it up.  Yes, I have to feed my pets every day.  But, what my pets have given me in return is often times more then most humans.  If you want to understand the definition of unconditional love, and by that I mean love that expects NOTHING in return, and love that will continue even if discourse occurs - love that regardless of what happens is deep and pure, then look no further then the devotion and care an animal gives its human.  It's as if God wanted us to get a small glimpse of what He feels for us.

I've had animals in my home my entire life.  The only time I haven't is when my husband and I were first living together and he had somehow been convinced he was allergic to all animals with hair.  When we adopted our first dog, Casey, it was neat to see how that affected my husband and the bond they shared.  And it was a heartbreaking day when we had to say goodbye to her.  Now I see my kids interacting with the four legged creatures in our home and it brings such joy.  So yeah, I love my cat (and my dogs and Amber's cat).  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Tattoo






I heard some noises in the bathroom and went to investigate only to find my youngest standing in the sink putting a tattoo on her lower back.  It's a curious spot for an almost 5yr old to use.  The typical placement for young ones is usually on the top of the hand, or on the arm.  When I asked here where she learned to put a tattoo there she told me she saw it on a person she has a relationship with.  I had never noticed that this person had ink there, but she had.  It really made me think about what things kids notice...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

TLC on TV

Can anyone tell me what part of this is ok? This is so disturbing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Blurry Face


I'm going to admit to something that moms aren't supposed to admit to other moms, let alone themselves.  I don't fully remember my middle daughter as a baby.  I remember her as a child older then 18 months, and I remember bits and pieces before that, mainly moments surrounded by specific events, but on a whole, it's sorta one big blur.  I have valid reasons.  My grandfather passed away and my son is only 12 months older then her (and has special needs).  But the bigger issue is that I was suffering from Postpartum Depression.  Many of you may be wondering why I decided to share something that you feel shouldn't be discussed, that it is private family stuff.  Here is why.  PPD stole memories.  It kept me locked inside the shell of who I was, just going through the motions of the person I thought I was supposed to be.  It kept me from bonding to my child the way I wanted to.  It made me turn to alcohol when I went out with friends and was away from the kids.  It made me question my value as a person, as a wife, and as a mom.  It made me disappear.  And if sharing my own struggle helps another mom, then I don't care who knows.  Postpartum Depression is a real thing.  Most of the time it is triggered by the hormonal changes that occur after a baby has been delivered.  Sometimes it latches on to depression that was already there and takes a joy ride.  It is really important that if you think you may be depressed, that you seek out help.  And don't listen to any Dr that tells you your feelings just come with being a mom.

My PPD resolved around the time my middle daughter turned 18 months.  And thankfully, I have many years of good solid memories with her, and many more to come.  And for the times I have to work to remember, I treasure the photos.

For more information on Postpartum Depression, click here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Doorknob


I knew it would happen eventually, especially since one of youngest child's new obsessions is tricking people into her room then locking the door.  I was on the phone when I went in to save the cat.  In all fairness to my daughter, she was nowhere around when I originally entered.  She came in a few minutes after I did inquiring as to why I was even in her room.  The curiosity quickly turned to opportunity when she shut the door then sneakily looked at me and announced "I locked it.".  My husband and I had intended to make sure we hid a key in the room, as it wasn't the first time she had tried this.  Every other time she had been on the outside, or someone else had been home to rescue.  But not today.  Today it was just her and me.  I got excited when I realized I had a bobby pin in my hair.  That quickly turned to frustration though as I realized today's rendition are not made out of the hard metal of old.  It bent awkwardly under pressure.  I had no choice but to sit by an open window and wait for my older daughter to come home and rescue us.  Thankfully our garage door has a keypad and she was able to get inside to unlock the door.  Otherwise it would have been my youngest and I stuck in the room, and my older two children stuck outside.  Then we would have had to call the neighbor to get the spare key.   

As I was thinking about the whole situation I couldn't help but think about other times in my life where I feel like I am stuck in one place, and the door that I think should open doesn't.  Rather it's bolted quite firmly.  I wonder then if it means I am supposed to just give up and accept that I am stuck in that one place forever.  Should I call for help?  Or should I just surrender to the circumstances and let happen what will?  Here is what I think.  Sometimes we have to wait until we see someone who can help us, someone who has the key.  Other times we just have to wait until a passerby happens to realize the door is shut and opens it just at that point where we thought all was lost.  And sometimes, if we turn around, we will see that there is a window and that it might not be the best way to get where we are going, but that it is the only way.  The hard part in all of this is waiting.  We are so sure there are other, more important things we should be doing.  That surely our time is being wasted just sitting in one place.  When you feel that, take a step back and look around at all the stuff going on right where you are.  You might realize there is something, or someone, that needs to be taken care of first.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Shoes


They say you can’t understand what someone else is going though unless you’ve gone through it yourself.  The thing is, even those who have gone there, don’t always understand. 

Maya Angelou is quoted as saying “All God’s children need traveling shoes.”  If you had asked me years ago what that means I probably would have given you some ambiguous Christianese statement that gave the illusion of understanding.  Not now though.  Now I have a real understanding of what she meant.  If I am to go where I am needed, where God is calling me to be, then I need to be ready, even if I’m not particularly prepared.  I just have to have my shoes on.  And it’s ok that my shoes are old and tattered.  It just means I’ve been using them.

2010 was a growing year for me.  I learned what it meant to really rely on nothing other then Jesus.  I took a step back and let God do His work, and trusted in His timing.  I gained a new understanding for what friendship really means and that not every relationship has to look the same way.  I realized what it really means to be a parent, and accepted that sometimes it means letting go.  I fought battles – with myself, with others, and with satan.  Some of those battles I won, some I lost, and others I let die out.  I prayed like I have never prayed before, and then prayed again.  I never gave up on what was important but let pass what wasn’t worth it.  I tried new things.  Some of those things I failed at, and others I didn’t.  I cried, a lot.  I laughed even more.  I made time for me, even when others who should understand why I needed to, didn’t.  I accepted help, although more often declined it, but I always appreciated the offer.  I admitted I couldn’t do it all, and for once, determined it was ok to say no, and to excuse myself from that which I couldn’t continue.  I began to smash the old records in my head, and worked hard not to replace them with new ones.  I defeated the desire to go back to old ways of handling things when times were tough, and picked up new tools to keep myself going.  I walked, a lot.  And when I couldn’t walk anymore, I rested, and then I started again. 

I can’t say if I ended 2010 a better person, a better mother, a better wife, or a better friend.  But I tried.  And I’d like to think that if nothing else, I ended the year with a few holes in my shoes.     

A Broken Spatula


My spatula broke.  That's what happens when you drop it on the way to bringing a casserole to church and then someone drives over it.

In the Car






This is technically a picture from yesterday, so it counts for yesterday ;)  The original picture didn't have the fuzziness to it - I added it because when I looked at it I thought I looked like I could be dreaming of the fact that school starts back up soon. Heh.